Tour operators have reported a surge in the number of people travelling from Qatar to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah following a relaxation in the rules implemented recently.
The number of pilgrims has shot up with the beginning of school winter holidays, say industry sources.
As per the revised rules, only those performing a repeat Umrah in the same year are required to pay the fee of QR2000, which was announced by the Saudi authorities last year. Earlier those going for a repeat Umrah in three years were supposed to pay the fee.
This means a pilgrim from Qatar going for Umrah for the first time in a year has to pay only the normal charges levied by the tour operators. A second trip in the same year will be considered a repeat Umrah and the pilgrim will have to pay the QR2,000, said a reliable source.
“The new decision came into effect by the beginning of December, last year. The usual Umrah visa chage once in a year is about QR300,” said the source.
Umrah tour operators here have hailed the decision and said they are expecting a huge turnout in the days to come.
“The relaxation in the rules has played a key role in bringing back our customers as the newly imposed fee was a heavy burden for many pilgrims especially families,” said a tour operator.
“ As per the previous rule, a five-member family will have to pay QR10,000 only as Umrah visa fees in addition to other charges like transport from Qatar to Saudi Arabia (Makkah and Madinah) and accommodation. These are the services being provided by the tour operators. Now we charge about QR1,200 for a pilgrim if he/she did not come in the category of repeat Umrah,” he added.
Another tour operator said that applications for Umrah trips have surged as many Arab and Asian families wanted to perform Umrah during the winter school holidays which have started in many schools.
“Mostly bookings go up from January 20 coinciding with the school holidays after the mid-term examination. We have planned to arrange two to three buses in the third week of this month to meet the growing demand,” he said.
For those intending to perform Umrah, pilgrimage visa is required to enter Saudi Arabia. Visa is stamped by the Saudi embassy in Qatar and the applications are processed through the tour operator.
The pilgrims are required to submit their passports having minimum six-months validity and a copy of the Qatari residency permit valid at least for three months.
To see our article in regards to the visa fee click here: http://www.nooritravel.co.uk/hajj-and-umrah-fees-cancelled-nd16